15 May 2007

Fasht El Jarem: Failure of Journalism

It all started with this piece of news in Al Wasat newspaper. Bahrain's largest "fasht"and its largest marine life reserve. Al Wasat newspaper related that unnamed sources in the business community are talking about plans to sell the fasht to an unnamed person for a sum of $785 million, which may or may not go to the country's treasury.

This could be a disaster by all means. But I'm really appalled at the way this issue was treated by the press, as if it was another Britney Spears tirade. This is a serious issue. It's a natural reserve. Destroying the marine life on the fasht will deprive Bahrain of its largest fisheries, coral reef, etc. Yet to be treated casually like just another "scandal" which a newspaper will jump on is too dangerous and irresponsible. First, on the original story, Al Wasat did not even bother to contact the ONE government agency who would know and who actually has written records of land ownership and change of ownership (which press and MPs can push to get, officially): the Survey & Land Registration Burea. Instead, we are getting random quotes by Minister of Housing, Minister of Municipality, Minister of JUSTICE (what the..??) and the Minister of Information (stooge me please).

Come on! I feel like this is being treated as an "attractive" sale-boosting scandal with no real journalism effort at all being put into it. I am the first one to say that we cannot trust government rhetoric, but running around doing jumping jacks and screaming about a piece of news (that is admittedly unconfirmed) is silly too! It is just as silly as Akhbar Al Khaleej today denying the news, also without putting any journalistic effort into it. Now it's starting to look like Al Wasat is trying to prove this news is correct to save face, whereas Akhbar Al Khaleej is trying to prove it false to save the government's face (and to spite Al Wasat too).

I'm not convinced by either. I'm also just as disappointed with MP's, who have split into the classic two camps: 1. Al Wefaq asking the wrong questions to the wrong people 2. Others who are not asking any questions to anyone. Between the two camps, we get a nice horse show but nothing else.

10 comments:

Munther said...

touche ! You took the words outta my mouth LuLu ! Was gonna post about the subject but since you've done a good job here, I'll just stick around and comment ! ;)

Ever since alwasat was established and I've always regarded it as the equivalent of the Sun newspaper at the UK minus the page 3 nude girls !

I don't know why, but it feels too Tabloidy ! If there was a hint of controversy the newspaper would jump on it without even doing a proper investigation which is always an indication of how badly the newspaper is managed !

moodz said...

I think it's still early to talk about this, as I doubt AlWasat took this step and publish the information on it's first page without at least SOME supporting evidence.

I'd wait for their response tomorrow

Cradle of Humanity said...

So what would have been the ideal attitude from our broadsheets - in your opinion? What should they have reported/not reported and how?

Anonymous said...

munther i do second you .... sometimes alwasat does becomes a tabloid newspaper, and what makes it worse is the fact - if i'm not mistaken- the ministry of dis-information had denied the sale of fasht al-jarem in two lines only as mentioned in our newspapers so much for the professionality in dealing with the situation as if we are talking about a piece of land that is worth only hundred of thousands not MILLIONS ..... coming to our beloved parliament don't expect any good from them let them keep on moaning about their pensions and the Lexus - by the way did they recieve them? if not يعلها مداخيل الهم و الغم عليهم الله لا يحلل هالسيارات و لا هالامتيازات اللي يستلمونها على اداءهم التعبان

Anonymous said...

ooops *become

LuLu said...

Well.. I half agree/half disagree with Munther-- I think the presence of AlWasat is very important because we need a newspaper that is willing to stand up and critique the government and I definitely admire AlJamri for not bending against pressure. That said, they do have a tendency to look for sensation, but that doesn't cancel out their positive contribution...

Cradle my issue is not with the story reported but with their approach to it. They reported a rumor, which they themselves called a rumor, from one side only. The original story indicated no effort to even speak with any concerned entity to try and clear up the matter. The government could be totally red-handed, but you need to do some investigative journalism before you just take a word from someone on the street and publish it. At least approach the LSRB for comments, and if they refuse, well, you should report that too!

LuLu said...

Yes anon. our MPs are a lost cause. The only thing left at this point for them is to wear cheerleader skirts and do flips everytime a minister speaks in parliament!

moodz said...

Just incase anyone is still following up the story like I am, the below is the responses published in AlWasat:

http://www.alwasatnews.com/newspager_pages/ViewDetails.aspx?news_id=47331&news_type=LOC&writer_code=

http://www.alwasatnews.com/newspager_pages/ViewDetails.aspx?news_id=47465&news_type=INT

LuLu said...

Thanks moodz for adding the updates to the strony.. definitely very useful.

I wouldn't say this is as good as we need, but it's definitely a good start that Al Wasat and Al Waqt are showing an effort now to actually get to the core of this story. Munther and anonymous are right on when they say this is a grand story that really needs grand coverage and investigative journalism..

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